Giulio Cappellini On The Future Of Design
“It’s a strange book,” is how Italian architect Giulio Cappellini describes Francesca Serrazanetti’s The Cappellini Method: A Performing Dream. Indeed, it is a striking thing to look at: a hard-bound volume with a white question mark emblazoned on the front in contrast with a vivid red cover.
It is, perhaps, a visual match to the man whose work and insights are contained within. The art director of Cappellini SpA exudes a patrician elegance with his appearance as he is a tall, lean man with a stern, quintessentially Italian face, and a no-nonsense demeanour. In conversation, however, he has a merry laugh that belies firmly held opinions and progressive views regarding the current state of the global design field and its possible future.
“People have been asking for many years if they could do a book about me,” he says with a wry chuckle. “But I would say, ‘No, I’m still alive! Why would you even want to write a book about me?’ Then, I thought: why not do a book that not only celebrates Cappellini [as one of the world’s leading design brands], but also gives me a chance to talk about the wonderful meetings with the fantastic people—artists, architects, and designers—whom I’ve met throughout my life?”
And it has been quite a life. The son of company founder Enrico Cappellini was born in Milan in 1954 and joined the family furniture business in 1977 at the age of 31. Since then, he has personally handled the development and promotion of Cappellini’s brand image which has led to its growth from a small family firm into one of the most prominent companies in the field of international furniture and interior design. He is also seen as one of international design’s leading talent scouts, as he helped propel the careers of the likes of Jasper Morrison, brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Tom Dixon, Marc Newson, and Piero Lussoni to the forefront of the industry. Indeed, it has been said of Cappellini that many young designers have met him at the airport in Milan with nothing but a knapsack on one shoulder and the idea for a chair in their heads.
Cappellini admits, however, that he also encounters fresh talent during his own trips overseas. “Travelling has given me the opportunity to meet young designers and see the studios of design students,” he says. “Creativity has become global. There is now a new generation of designers, mostly between the ages of 23 and 25, who are producing interesting work. They don’t try to copy or follow those whom I call the ‘Big Fathers of Design.’ They design with a lot more freedom.”
He is of the opinion that changing trends in furniture design have contributed to this shift in thinking. “Designing furniture today is totally different from how it was done in the past,” he opines. “In the ’80s and ’90s, the most important thing was to try and create a beautiful shape. Now, to do good furniture design, you have to understand the needs of the end-consumer. But there is always a way to do something new: you can work with different materials, as well as innovative technologies and systems.”
Named among Time Magazine’s “Style and Design 100” in 2007 and again as one of its 10 global trendsetters in 2017, it is not surprising that Giulio Cappellini is always on the lookout for the next big thing and the next great talent.
“I can find inspiration for everything anywhere,” he explains. “For me, the most important thing is to always work on innovating and always try to see what’s next.”
At the same time, he hopes that people will also be inspired by the items that he and Cappellini SpA have been producing over the decades. Indeed, pieces like Dutch designer Marcel Wanders’ knotted chair and whimsical “Eye Shadow” lamp or the sinuous form of the now-iconic S-chair have helped spark ideas in both designers and customers alike.
“We are always trying to make beautiful products,” he says, “as it’s also important to inspire people’s dreams and bring out their smiles through beautiful objects.” With a grin, he adds, “The idea of the dream for me is very important.”
The Cappellini Method is exclusively available at Studio Dimenisone, GF on Parkade, 28th cor 7th S, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.